Facebook Page
Old Time Trains

Union Pearson Express

Union Pearson Express is a division of Metrolinx an Ontario provincial entity that also operates GO Transit trains and buses. UP Express operates a passenger train service between Toronto Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport a.k.a. Toronto Pearson Airport or YYZ in air language!

First talked about decades ago studies were done in 1989, 1990 and 1991 to no avail. Another decade went by and in April 2001 Transport Canada responsible for airports proposed such a service. SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Union Pearson AirLink Group was finally selected. They put forth Blue22 based upon a 22 minute travel time with one stop en route at Bloor GO station to connect with a TTC Subway line. This name soon died when YIMBY's (Yes In My Back Yard) intervened demanding a station in Weston! They got it! It was to operate using refurbished RDC's "Budd Cars". It didn't get off the ground and in June 2008 a PPP (Private_Public_Partnerhip) was put forward. It too failed to result in anything happening.

Metrolinx took over the project in July 2010 creating Union Pearson Express a.k.a. UP Express as a division of GO Transit. The project required a major expansion and upgrade of the GO (ex CN) Georgetown line for 14 miles between Bathurst Street and Malton adding two more tracks to the already two-track mainline. It also required adding bridges and new signals matching those on the Lakeshore Line that permitted high frequency operation. Some three dozen signal indications (adding all those flashing lights) rather than the more common half dozen used everywhere else. It also required a 2.1 mile elevated spur off the Georgetown line into the airport itself at a cost of nearly $130 Million. Projected total cost of over $450 Million. Construction finally began in 2011!

Although electrification had been a hoped-for goal it was simply too expensive for the ridership anticipated even considering the existing GO ridership beyond UPX end points. Only the Lakeshore Lines have anywhere near the required ridership to warrant the expense of electrification. Instead, new technology produced a diesel engine that met US EPA Tier 4 requirements for the first time anywhere! Toronto was a leader! Imagine that! Quiet and pollution reduction combined to match electrification for "Green" qualities at a fraction of the cost as well as time saving for start-up.

Nippon Sharyo produced DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) cars manufactured in Japan and assembled in USA (Rochelle, Illinois) for SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit) in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Around the same time they also produced (in Rochelle), similar DMU's for UP Express although with more elegant interiors with overhead storage and larger luggage space as well. UPX began running (June 6, 2015) two years before SMART did so in August 2017.

Initially, (March 2011) UP Express ordered 12 cars but later increased it to 18 with a C type car for center use between pairs of cab cars operating with a maximum of three cars. The C cars do have a cab but not a streamlined nose. They also have a washroom something the others do not! Cost was $75 Million US. Grand total cost of UPX was $456 Million!

Train waiting to depart Union Station. Rear view. July 10, 2018 Rev. Edward Brain, D.D.

Union Station was a challenge in that track space was at a premium. Luckily, they were able to alter the west end of Track 1 shortening it and realigning it connecting into Track 2 and creating a short dead-end track able to hold just one 3 car train-set. A modern station was constructed, self-contained and enclosed with a high platform accessible via the enclosed SkyWalk giving access to/from the main Union Station for VIA, GO plus TTC all enclosed as well as the lengthy (over 18 miles) PATH underground pedestrian way.

Trains operate every 15 minutes all-day seven days a week from 5.30 AM to 1 AM totalling 156 trips a day. Initially, train started later, in time for first flights. However, they "forgot" about the 7,000 airport workers! They had to arrive earlier!

Anticipated ridership failed miserably! At 2,100 per day it didn't even reach 7,000 needed to cover operating expenses! This was due to the very high fares being charged. Finally, nine months later a huge fare reduction (55%, from $27.50 down to $12.00) started to boost ridership. By July 2017 it was 10,000 per day still far from what was originally predicted.



UPX 1007 leads three car consist at Union.

UPX 1008 exiting flyunder heading westward towards GO Weston Subdivison.
Four trains layover mid-day at GO North Bathurst Street Yard.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

Meet between two trains. Historic site of Cabin D. Westbound (right) and Eastbound which
could not enter until train departed from Union Station. Second day of operation Sunday, June 7, 2015.

Note new tracks incomplete underneath new Strachan Avenue underpass.
Newly constructed high rises in background now known as Liberty Village
blanket former CPR Parkdale Yard and adjacent industries long gone.





Back (Use your browser Back button)

Old Time Trains © 2019